The Goal of self help

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Are you ready for this??

This is one of those articles that may not be liked by those of you knee-deep entrenched in self-help right now, and it certainly won’t be liked by most of the self-proclaimed gurus who are teaching self-help. Nevertheless, a self-check is always beneficial.

  • Why do some people take refuge in self help?

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I got involved with this stuff long ago.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that everyone who becomes involved with this stuff has some sort of an issue.  I realize it’s a very general statement but please stay with me here.  I just haven’t met any exceptions and perhaps one person exists out there who defies the rule, but it’s safe to say, the blanket statement covers 99% of people heavily involved with self-help.

It was difficult for ME to come to this conclusion, because then, that meant I had some sort of an issue as well.  And truth is, I did.   It’s just a matter of identifying the issues and realizing its severity.  I’ve come across so many men who lack basic social skills, the ability to interact at a house party or even give you a friendly handshake.   I didn’t have those issues, so I wondered why I ended up in some conference that was hosting a slew of such men.

Different people take refuge for different reasons.  For some, it’s a lack of social skills, for others it’s lack of confidence or suffering from low self-esteem.  As for me, I went through a period where I was really depressed and not feeling all of that great about myself.  I suppose that’s a mark of all people who go through that phase. If you felt fantastic about yourself, you wouldn’t be depressed.

Still, I don’t have any regrets about studying so much about human behavior or psychology because it’s something I always enjoyed.  For whatever reason, I’ve enjoyed looking at different people’s characters, their behavioral patterns and mannerisms since I Was a kid.  Reading certain blog posts will give you that impression rather quickly.

But surely, you’re talking about just the “Seduction Community?”

Absolutely NOT!  I am talking about ALL Self-help.  I am talking Tony Robbins, NLP, Bandler, Eckhart Tolle, and as main stream as Dr. Phil.   People take refuge in this because they have issues.

Does it mean you’re a bad apple?  Or in layman’s terms, are you a f*cked up individual?

No.  It just means you’re going through a period where things are rough.  You’re navigating through troubled waters.   That’s all.  Granted, you’re going to come across some weirdos and sociopaths, and that’s just how it goes.

Clearly, there also exists a segment of self-help fanatics who have gigantic issues that need serious help.  The majority of self-help enthusiasts, got into it because of the place they were in life.

There are events in life that unravel human beings.  Failed businesses or marriages serve as a good example.   Ever come across a man/woman who went through an extremely bitter divorce?  What about some poor guy who got laid off a job after 20 years of service?  (Similar to the opening sequence in the movie “Up In the Air.”)   That job was his professional life!   Or perhaps someone who is going through depression, OCD, anxiety disorders, and etc?  It happens.

So where does Self-help come in?  Are you ready for this?

Self-Help mostly APPEALS To human beings at the time when they’re most vulnerable!

 All of the aforementioned  folks in the last paragraph could be subjects lured in by  self-help!   It’s at these times of desperate destitution that self-help suddenly appeals to us.  Self-Help products generally do not appeal to moderately happy individuals.

You’d be hard pressed to find well-adjusted genuinely happy individuals at a Tony Robbins Seminar.  More so, you’ll have an even harder time to get that person to listen to a self-help Audio course!   I’ve tried!  You have a better chance  of having them visit the dentist without Novocain than to get them to listen to Tony Robbins.

Self-Help Appeals to us when we’re most vulnerable emotionally and mentally.  Why?

Because it makes sense out of things.  You’re going through a period where your brain is searching for meaning.  Imagine you’ve worked for the same company married to the same spouse for 20 years.  Suddenly, that job fires you (and 100s of others), and your spouse wants a divorce.

20 years of investment of your life and energy seems to have been gone down the drain.  It is so difficult to make sense.  What does it mean?  In times like this, the Universe and the planet don’t make sense.

Enter Self-Help.  It makes sense out of things and sometimes, it’s something as simple as providing perspective for where you’re at.  (Sort of like my attempt with this article, which you’ve probably caught on by now.)   It provides a reference point as to where you are, and where you need to go.  It provides some clarity, a goal, and some guidance. Sometimes, it also provides a support group of peers suffering through similar crisis.

Through a renewed sense self, new goals and objectives, armed with a new perspective, and perhaps a support-group of like-minded peers, you are now ready to forge ahead once again.   In fact, one of the benefits of self-help is providing support groups.  Much like “Alcoholics Anonymous,” a support group of peers is very effective in enabling people to deal with situations.    For the guy/gal above, they’ll find a new spouse or lover, get a new job, or even do something better.  Maybe start a new business and be more productive than before.  Maybe!

“Maybe” is the keyword.  Some people just get stuck in the cycle.

So wait!  What the f**k man!  Are you saying Self-Help is Good or Bad?

It’s neither and it’s a both!  Wow, what a zen answer.  The type of shit you’d find in Self-help books.  I could be a great guru If I could ever stand to be a pretentious bastard.

Self-Help can be good for all of the examples I gave in the last few paragraphs.  3 particular concepts stand out in my experience and obsevation:

  1.  New goals,
  2. New perspective,
  3. A support-group

 The above three concepts help individuals pick up the pieces and forge ahead.  That’s the good, or rather beneficial, part of  self-help.

The bad, or counterproductive, part is when self-help becomes a lifestyle.  It’s when it consumes your life and becomes everything, a perpetual cycle of constant involvement in self-help searching for a some higher goal.

Heroin addicts call it “Chasing The Dragon.”  (OK, I’ve seen it in Documentaries.)   Apparently, the greatest high off of heroin comes off the very first attempt.  You can never rival that high again, and people start doing it to get that affect, but they never can.  Hence, they start chasing the “Dragon” which they can never find.  In the process, it robs them of everything.

If you’re knee-deep engulfed in the trenches of Self-help, you must evaluate if you too are chasing that dragon.  Part of this is commercial.  Similar to a drug-pusher, a self-help guru does NOT want to let you go!  It’s bad for business.

You can bet that there will constantly be an influx of new self-help material  that’s designed to be better than the last.  There will be new discoveries, new realizations, and programs to keep you addicted for a lifetime.  In the meanwhile, the confused addicts keep on purchasing.

See, this is not like the Beetles or the Rolling Stones putting out a new album every year for your musical enjoyment.  You have a choice to buy that or not buy it.  Hey, you may not even like those bands.  Regardless of your affinity for the band, you’re able to make a conscious decision.  In self-help, you’re not able to make that conscious decision.  Technically, you have the power to make the decision, but psychologically, it’s already been made for you.  (A lot of good marketing operates on this platform.)

The self-help guru has already bypassed your critical thinking.  He has already convinced you that you need his wisdom forever and ever, and ever.  In fact, it’s almost like your life would be empty without him constantly pumping you with his wisdom.………   At least, this is the behavior of most self-help marketing machines.  They want you to chase that dragon for a lifetime.  The ones that achieve cult status want you to bring your friends along for the ride.

The truly brilliant ministers of propaganda make self-help a  part of your identity.  Devout followers now swear by it and come to believe that this new information has somehow transcended them from the rest of humanity.  Come to thin think of it, there is another form of doctrine that operates on the same plain of ideology: Organized religion.

These are doctrines that become part of your identity and sense of purpose.  Whether someone is serving Jesus or a new age spiritual guru, he/she ought to perhaps come to realize that in some way , this has become his/her way of life. This is his identity.   This fulfills his sense of purpose.  When you dictate a human being’s sense of purpose and identity, you own his/her soul. You truly do.  You can get him to willingly murder abortion doctors, or a wear suicide bomber vest. 

(And if you read the blog often, you recognize the repeated resurgence  of Purpose/identity theme  often. Pardon the heavy psychology, but it’s important to slap yourself upside the head with realizations.)

It’s imperative for all of us as human beings to have a sense of purpose and an identity.  However, you have to ask yourself: Isn’t silly to have your identity be that of someone who spends tens of 1000s of Dollars on self-help?  IS this something to be proud of?  Could this be something in retrospect to find redeeming?

Oh, but I can see it now.  The influx of anger from gurus and their devout disciples alike: “Ha!  You just don’t understand.”

The problem, my dear Watson, is that I DO understand and hence why you should reevaluate yourself if you find yourself knee deep in the thick swamps of self-help without a paddle.  Take a look at yourself from a third person perspective.

In essence, imagine looking at a biographical movie of yourself on a big screen TV.  We could all use a reality-check once in a while.  Before you do that, maybe you ought to look at my friend’s wife, who has spent tens of 1000s of Dollars on seminars trying to acquire the “Millionaire Mindset.”

She is still not a millionaire.  She is not even a 100,000er.  In fact, had she spent that 20,000 Dollars on buying some stock from Apple 6 years ago, she’d have some decent return on investment right about now, but I digress.

Look at it this way:  People who are fit and healthy do not repeatedly attend weight-loss conventions.  Sure, a fitness aficionado (me included) will pick up a new book  here and there as a hobby but it takes an entirely different type of animal to spend 1000 of Dollars on repeated seminars every single year.

There is a sense of absolutism that self-help gurus operate with.  Simply put, it is an “All or nothing” mentality.  “You’re either with us or against us” mindset drives their business forward forever.  None of their preaching can really be proven or unsproven.  It can’t be confirmed or denied.  It just exists in this plain of fluff caught in a time-space vacuum of ambiguities where only the truly privileged who pay over the course of 50 years can truly come to grasp.

This sense of absolutism must exist because their authority cannot be questioned.  You need their enlightenment forever and ever.  Critical thinking on your part cannot be accepted.  If you can bypass critical-thinking, you can control someone’s actions and behavior.  Henceforth, logic, rational, and reason must be eradicated at all costs. 

A religious person will convince you that a guy rented a small studio apartment literally inside a whale, and that another guy took a pair of every single specie of animals on a ship the size of a modern aircraft carrier which he built without any tools or even a hammer.  

A self-help guru will similarly convince you that he holds the key to enlighenment and anyone who challenges this assertion will be met with character attacks: “You’re negative.  You don’t get it.  You don’t want to get it.  You’re just trying to bring others down… and etc…” 

Should all self-help be discarded?

 No.  Reading books or attending seminars that give you basic building blocks are useful.  I’ve found value in them and I think so have other.  Hey, I write a Blog that gives dating tips.   I even share some of the psychological concepts/tools I have come to learn.  It’s just how long and how much money you devote to this endeavor and how many years you spend that can become borderline ridiculous.

 Did you go to a Tony Robbins seminar?  Good.  I went to one too.  I really enjoyed it.  I’d even recommend it to you except I worry you may fall into the trap of becoming a disciple.  I’ve personally met people who have been involved “Studying” with Tony for almost a decade now.  (And there are no signs of them leaving the compound anytime soon.)  Again, imagine that for a minute: 10 YEARS of studying Tony.

If people immersed themselves in self-help for a year or two to get out of a hole, then there’d be no cause for concern.  Often, it’s not how it works.  OK, I can see the frustration of the malcontent now:

“Man, this guy does Not get it. What do you have against people improving themselves?”

A common response from a self-help guru, I’d presume.  I am an ardent advocate of improving oneself.   You could pick up a book on philosophy, you could enroll in a college course, you could start a physical fitness program, you could start a new hobby….  Wait, How about learning to speak a new language???

Those are all ways of improving oneself, and don’t require you to repeatedly spend 10,000 Dollars a year for the next 10 years.

  • So to bring this full circle: What is the goal of self-help?

The goal of self-help is LEAVING IT.  You have certain issues and so you delve into self-help.  In some cases, professional help may be required. In other cases, you get through that period, and you learn some good things.  Whether it’s advice on having a more fit body, a healthier diet, or effectively flirting with the opposite sex, you learn good solid tips that will help guide you. You may even spend a couple of years in it.

Yes, you can learn good information from self-help.  It may benefit you in providing some perspective and teach you some applicable tools to get over the low point you’re in at the moment.

  • But do remember: The Goal of Self-Help is Leaving it.

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Cameron